tv Dateline London BBC News October 18, 2020 3:30pm-4:01pm BST
we'll start the week with a north—west south—east divide. the heaviest rain in northern ireland and western scotland. we may see a couple of inches before the system clears and the strongest wind on the western coast. rain in wales and north—west england in the morning. central and eastern england should be mostly dry and bright the day. blustery under the rain with top temperatures peaking between 11 and 15. looks likely we'll see more wet weather especially to the west on tuesday. the wind continuing to strengthen but a touch milder than it has been of late. take care. hello, this is bbc news. the headlines.
the mayor of greater manchester accuses boris johnson of exaggerating the spread of coronavirus in the area in a bid to persuade local leaders to accept tougher restrictions — as he calls for increased financial support. anywhere could end up in tier three this winter. in fact, i would say places are likely to end up in tier three. therefore, it is everyone‘s concern to protect the lowest paid in our community. the earlier we have the restrictions, in those areas where there is high incidence, the better for the economy of those areas, because we stop the infection spreading in a way which will do further damage to the economy. vigils and rallies are being held across france in a show of solidarity with the teaching profession, following the killing of a teacher on friday. britain's high streets under threat as a record number of shops close over the first six months of this year.
we are back in half and our. time for dateline london. hello, i'm shaun ley. welcome to the programme which brings together distinguished columnists, bbc specialists and the correspondents who file their stories to the folks back home dateline london. this week: not all over by christmas. borisjohnson resists calls for a short, sharp lockdown. are northern ireland and wales undermining his argument or are they arbiters of things to come? and brexit is back — but it's a fishy business. your dateline panel this week: analisa piras is italian and a documentary film maker; stefanie bolzen is german, the london correspondent for die welt. and he's british,
he's simon jack, he's the bbc‘s business editor — and he's here in the studio. good to have you with us. "back to square one". how one british mp characterised the new tiers of covid restrictions announced by prime minister boris johnson on monday. although the number of people hospitalised by the virus is almost exactly what it was on the day the uk went into a nationwide lockdown back in march, mrjohnson said he doesn't want to do that again. labour, the main opposition party at westminster, says it's time for what's being called "a circuit breaker", for a short period. on wednesday, northern ireland announced a two—week shut down of schools and hospitality venues in the hope of slowing the rate of infection. wales is shutting the border to people from high risk areas in the rest of britain. back to square one, a cry of frustration, all that sacrifice and where has it got us? it was inevitable that we would find ourselves facing potentially a covid christmas until or unless there is a vaccine?
i think that is right, most scientists said it would be a tough winter, the regular flu season coming along... we didn't eradicate it in the first place. if you have schools and universities and people going back to the office, most people thought this was inevitable. what is not inevitable, and as you said, there is a big debate about how we tackle this... as of midnight last night, london joined york and other parts of the uk... it's now half the population living under what we call tier 2, which means people from different households can't mix indoors at all. that is going to have very grave repercussions for some of our industries, hospitality... i was speaking to a pub owner in the east end of london the other day, she said she would usually have 100 people of capacity, it's been halved already and she will be lucky if she can get 15 people in. she doesn't see herself being able to keep her
staff on. the hospitality industry is groaning... they say 750,000 jobs are at risk. this morning, you have professorjohn bell coming out and saying the only way to get on top of this is to have a circuit breaker. that would come at enormous cost. a distinguished economic think tank thinks that will cost between £15—20 billion, a long way short of what the national lockdown cost was back in april, which was 20% of gdp, 400 billion plus. some very powerful context and figures. stefanie, i suppose that has been part of the political tension, not least the tension between the central government and local government. we don't have a federal system in the uk, but, boy, are we seeing devolution biting national government. it is quite extraordinary. the fight between westminster and the mayor of greater manchester,
who refuses together with other council leaders in manchester to move to tier 3, the harshest lockdown in the united kingdom. threats are going back and forward. in my country, germany, we have moved on from the spring and we know more. there is a more differentiated view and approach to things. you should distinguish between which part of the population is more prone to transmission, how business should be shut down or how much they can be of risk to people. the same discussion is also going on in germany and there are a lot of tensions between the federal government and the regions. we see, analisa, in madrid, the central government in spain and the madrid region, the president of the region there
standing out against what the national government wanted to do in shutting down madrid for economic reasons. not trying to defend it on health grounds but on economic grounds it's too high a price for the economy to bear. yes, exactly. the same debate has been going on in italy, the first place where the covid pandemic hit europe. there were huge issues. italy has a devolved regional system in regards to health. so milan and the region of milan, they were somehow autonomous in the way they were dealing with this extraordinary outbreak that nobody knew anything about in europe at the time, but there what we saw was the fallacy of thinking that the local solution might be the right one.
what we have learnt in italy is that when you are dealing with such an uncontrollable thing like a pandemic, what you need to do is to make sure that you coordinate very tightly with the reality on the ground at the local level and with the kind of big picture that the central government has. in italy, in milan and the lombardi region, it was autonomous, they get the power for health reasons — in the end they had to somehow admit that they got it wrong without the government. the conflict that we are seeing in britain seems to be coming from a misunderstanding, what we have seen in italy 2—3 months in advance, facing the problems of the covid pandemic, is that what works is really an extremely tight
coordination between central government and regions to compare the local realities with the big picture of transmission. it seems that is not happening in britain and it's becoming part of a political party confrontation. that is extremely concerning because we are talking about life and death matters here. it is important that britain tries to look at what has already happened in other countries and tries to learn the lessons. we are all in this together and we are learning as we go along. it is important to think about this, it is often portrayed as a health issue versus an economic issue, like it is a shoot out between those two interests... i think that is wrong, actually. clearly, if you do have these
brief lockdowns, all that does is defer and lengthen the pain. the economic cost incurred at that time will end up being considered wasted. that gets us to this argument about a circuit breaker. labour opposition pushing hard. northern ireland and wales effectively doing that anyway. the prime minister says he doesn't want to do it. wasn't the most damning criticism of his tier system he introduced only this week from the chief medical officer for england? chris whitty saying he doesn't think it will be sufficient. it is obvious that boris johnson is now torn. between the scientific advice and the... it became obvious at the beginning of this week. the advisory body of the
british government advocated to have another national lockdown. a circuit breaker, as you call it. borisjohnson decided against it. there kicks in another strain of political impact, which is his own party. his own party and backbenchers have started or are threatening a rebellion against the lockdown restrictions or the covid restrictions of the prime minister and it looked like a really serious rebellion. the prime minister gave in to his own backbenchers and the pressure they made, because they also hear from their constituents back home how businesses are suffering, how people are losing theirjobs. at the end of the day, the question is, what is at stake? 0n the one hand, the lives of thousands of people who might get the infection, who might die of it, but on the other hand the
collateral damage, so to say, on the health system, on education, on the social and mental health of people. to be fair, it is an impossible position to be in for the prime minister. you can see how much, even in the press conference yesterday, how much he is torn about what he has to decide. i'm sure you must be so relieved to hear us talking about brexit again. if you're a fisheries ministerfrom an eu country, christmas means late nights — not partying, but squabbling over scallops and cod quotas. it's fishing which remains the biggest stumbling block in the eu—uk trade deal. although fishermen and women generate a little over i% of gdp — processing the catch adds a bit more — britain is an island nation. when eurosceptics like mrjohnson campaigned in the brexit referendum to "take back control" from brussels, the catch landed by british vessels was both implicit and explicit in their pledge.
germany, not thought of as a fishing nation, ended up weighing anchor on the uk's side this week, angela merkel saying there has to be a deal which is in the interest of both the uk and eu. what is going on? are we starting to see divisions opening up, dare i say it, in the eu position? no, i don't think so. i don't think you really see divisions. i think you see it very much known distribution between good cop and bad cop on the european side. macron arriving at the european summit on thursday being quite stark his language that he will not give in, that he will protect the french fishermen, who in fact... i was in scotland two weeks ago and spoke to french fishermen. they said they are doing 95% of their catch in scottish waters or in british waters — we cannot survive if there is not a deal. it is an important constituency, but in a symbolic way, it is only 10,000 jobs. there are things on the table
that are economically far more important. this is the question about what they call a level playing field. how they find an agreement that britain will not kind of sail off having still access to the single market but being not bound to standards for the environment or labour conditions. and also state aid. this is one of the controversial things on the table. interestingly, on friday morning, or thursday morning, i was briefed from brussels that whatever now comes out of the summit, they will continue negotiating on monday in london. michel barnier is not coming to london, there is now only a phone call. i think the europeans are surprised by quite the harsh reaction from downing street but i think this is part of posturing. analisa, to give us some context...
why is fishing so important? spain, italy, for the british, this persistent stand—off, it is not a new problem, the focus distilled into this trade dispute between the uk? well, i agree with stefanie that it is posturing. basically, fishing is not that important at all, as you have reminded us. it's about even less than 1% of the gdp of britain. it's minimal in comparison with the real stake here, which is 50% of the trade of this country. but i guess that because we are in a territory which is about identity politics, nationalism, britain is an island nation. this idea of take back our
waters and take control back of our fish has really been a catalyst. a catalyst of many of the emotions behind the brexit vote. i believe that's why boris johnson is kind of touching on it so much, because it's a symbol. there is not much to be gained in the brexit deal when it comes to the economy, probably only pain and tears, but this idea we got back our waters is more important than other ideas. in a way, for president macron, he feels again that this centuries—old rivalry with britain across the channel is somehow coming back in the mind of people, and he feels that he has
to defend the french fishermen. and so there was a lot of discussion in the french press these days to remind brits that actually, yes, the fish are in their water, but are actually born on the shallow water of france. they are french fish! the fact that they don't recognise your border, doesn't mean that they are not french. that's why we all hope there will be a more grown—up conversation behind closed doors and i think that is probably what is going to happen. what is certain is that the 27 are absolutely monolithic, they are completely firm in their position, so there is very little posturing that will change the situation, and i do believe that in the end there will be a deal. let's hope so. simon, this is the critical point.
i remember talking to fishermen in devon, the county i come from, saying it is not so much the british eating the fish, it's the fish we sell in mediterranean markets, and if there isn't a trade deal, that is in trouble. you can catch all the fish you like — if you haven't got anyone to sell them you have a problem. the british don't eat enough of the fish that they catch. most of the fish brits eat are caught in norwegian or icelandic waters. i agree with both analisa and stefanie that fishing is a tenth of 1% of british gdp. banking is 100 times more important than that. you're also right, it speaks to our identity as an island nation. we have historical memories of the cod wars, clashing boats the channel... and only on monday night, the french and the devon fishermen were at it again. when i went down there, what was interesting to me, when i talked to fishermen, they don't want it all.
the truth is that they can't catch it all. the fleet isn't big enough. what they want is a slightly better deal. when you hear this rhetoric about "it is our fish," "keep out of it, we want them all," that is not with the fishing industry themselves are saying. i do think there is a deal here to be done. it may involve the french fishermen having to pay some sort of fee, the french government compensating them, but this is a good old—fashioned haggle. i disagree slightly with you that this is the biggest issue. i think some of the things that stefanie was talking about, state aid and level playing field, those are much more difficult things to sort out. why is it the british are the eu have chosen to focus on the fishing? macron has an election coming up as well. as we say, it's very visible, everyone can understand this issue. when you start talking about the nuances of state aid, people's eyes glaze over. not on this programme!
but you know, the nuances of state assistance run into hundreds of pages in treaty agreements and are difficult to understand. yes, this one, but i think clearly there is a deal to be done here because 75% of uk fish are sold in eu markets, 0.1% of gdp. a good old —fashioned haggle at the fish stall. what is left, do you think? if you put that one aside, there is a way of finessing that? i think the state aid thing is important and levelling the playing field. there is this disconnect, when borisjohnson asks why we can't have the same as the eu gave to canada. because we are right on the eu's doorstep, because we are so close, oui’ economies are so entwined and linked, it isn't appropriate, some say, to have that sort of deal when you have something on the border.
actually, what the uk government wants to do is... what's weird is, the uk seemingly prepared to sacrifice a free trade deal on the altar of state aid, something the uk government almost never does. it does a quarter of the amount of state aid compared to germany. it wants to be able to pour money into high—tech. hopefully we'll talk about this story later. 0n environmental stuff. get a global competitive advantage in some industries that suit uk skills and priorities. that is something the eu is worried about. they will point out that you signed up to this in the political declaration. now the part of the programme where we talk about the stories that may not have had a lot of coverage but you think we should know more about. analisa, do you want to talk about the opportunities to report during the
pandemic? i think we have lost analisa's sound. stefanie, you also want to talk about this but in a different context? i picked up a story from the netherlands where the public broadcaster this week has announced they will actually take off all the letters or the writing on their vehicles. so if reporters or camera teams go out to report on something, they will now take off the nos logo, simply to protect their reporters. that comes because there has been an increasing number of attacks on n05 or in general dutch reporters covering especially protests. people got attacked by people on the street. we have the same also in germany. there has been dozens of attacks on german reporters in the last months who were simply doing theirjobs.
the most recent was back in may when there were anti—restriction demonstrations in berlin where six people from a german broadcaster had to go to hospital because they were hit and beaten by protesters. journalists have really become a target when they are just doing, not only theirjob, but they are really standing up and delivering freedom of speech and information. and especially when you now look at the united states and at the the election at the beginning of november, the mounting aggression that is coming from the us president, who even says already that he might not accept the outcome of the election in case he loses... there is a growing danger to journalists just doing theirjobs. i certainly wouldn't characterise it as dangerous, my experience of this, but i echo the point that stefanie is making, analisa, i've had people accuse me
on the street of acting as propaganda for government because we are putting out information about covid. some people are very suspicious about the background to all of that. did you want to talk about the difficulty of reporting during the pandemic? yes, but not only that, i wanted to flag the fact that covid—19 is somehow giving an opportunity to all sorts of strong men or people in power to abuse their power. there has been a report by the international press institute of 426 cases of arrests and harassment by governments of journalists trying to show what was going on with covid measures. in a different way, this is happening also in europe. in italy, there's been a trying and attempt of saying that
the recent resurgence of the pandemic is the fault of people. journalists have said there are things the government hasn't done, the responsibility of the government. in britain, we are seeing an attempt saying it is the people who don't respect the rules, without putting their attention and accountability on what the government does. what i'm trying to say is that never as before, it is important we protect the freedom of the press, and we pay attention to all the voices that are trying to inform on what is happening between citizens and government in the pandemic. and we also keep accountability on the info—demic, on the false spread of information. and it is very, very important that we also keep open the comparison between international lessons and experiences with the pandemic,
and in this sense, something i learned yesterday that is very concerning, is that one such island of comparison of news from different countries, the same programme we are talking on right now, might be finished by the end of the year. so i think that these are things we need really to flag because never before has the freedom of the press been more important. i will have to stop you there and get simon and on the last word looking ahead. can ijust echo some of those comments as a business journalist? it is not all businesses, but a healthy majority were not in favour of brexit. my own experience on this is that if i report the comments of what businesses tell me about some of the problems of brexit, i then get accused of being a champion of their interests and blah blah blah. so both covid and brexit have led to a very divisive media and twitter can be a very
unpleasant place to be, whatever side of the argument you're on. looking ahead, next week, in the next two weeks a ten—point plan for how the government wants to get to net zero by 2050. some nuclear, lots of offshore wind. there was a time when offshore when they said it would never work. but the uk was one of the first to commit to a net zero legally, so a lot of people will be watching around the world. if there is a bigger story than the pandemic, maybe it is the environment, and we will get some detail on that. that's it for dateline london for this week — we're back next week at the same time. goodbye.
hello. it's been quite a quiet theme of weather over the last few days but that is going to change for the new working week. it looks like this week will see rain at times and the wind will be quite a feature. for monday, low pressure in the north—west. we'll start the week with a north—west south—east divide. the heaviest rain in northern ireland and western scotland. we may see a couple of inches before the system clears and the strongest wind on the western coast. rain in wales and north—west england in the morning. central and eastern england should be mostly dry and bright the day. blustery under the rain with top temperatures peaking between 11 and 15. looks likely we'll see more wet weather especially to the west on tuesday.
this is bbc news the headlines at four. the mayor of greater manchester accuses boris johnson of exaggerating the spread of coronavirus in the area in a bid to persuade local leaders to accept tougher restrictions, as he calls for increased financial support. anywhere could end up in tier three this winter. in fact, i would say places are likely to end up in tier three. therefore, it is everyone‘s concern to protect the lowest paid in our community. the earlier we have the restrictions, in those areas where there is high instance, the better for the economy of those areas, because we stop the infection spreading in a way which will do further damage to the economy as well as to public health. vigils and rallies are being held across france in a show of solidarity with the teaching profession, following the killing